Bishop Edward Grosz will be the principle celebrant for a Mass honoring the 150-year legacy of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Williamsville on June 28 at 11:30 a.m.
The Mass and old time barbecue will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the construction of the Civil War era church. The 179-year-old parish was the first to be founded by St. John Neumann.
Coinciding with the anniversary is the culmination of a three-year renovation project for the church. In addition to new paint, carpeting, lighting and air conditioning, the renewed interior reveals a special home for some historic art work. The restored Stations of the Cross have been recovered from the former St. Matthew's Church at Ferry and Moselle in Buffalo that closed in 1993. Angel Restorations carefully repaired the damaged works of art and replaced two missing stations.
A Flemish tapestry of the baptism of Jesus now adorns the area adjacent to the baptismal font. The back altar features a new tabernacle crafted in Spain. The tabernacle is designed with spire accents reminiscent of the original design of the 150-year-old sanctuary. Hanging from the choir loft above the nave is a new portrait of St. John Neumann painted by local muralist Tim Martin.
The painting depicts a newly ordained Father John Neumann arriving in Williamsville with the original small church off in the distance. Rolling hills in the background are a tribute to his travels and the parishes he established throughout the Diocese of Buffalo.
Outside the church, new doors and transoms have been installed. During the renovation project, an old stepping stone was discovered in the church basement. The delicately carved stone was used by people stepping down from their horses or carriages to enter the church. The stone has been restored and placed near the Scripture Prayer Garden that was created four years ago for the parish's 175th jubilee.
The anniversary mass will feature a unique musical premiere. The parish commissioned Steven Janco to compose a hymn for the church's anniversary that will be sung for the first time at the anniversary Mass. Steven Janco, a nationally recognized liturgist and composer of the Mass of Angels and Saints, conducted a parish retreat two years ago and offered to compose the new song for the church's sesquicentennial.